More tales of woe from a struggling author
… a true story…
The struggling author sat in front of his monitor, the blank white screen and endlessly flashing cursor taunting him as he wracked his tortured brain for new content. This time there was no ‘Blogety Blog’ theme tune running through his mind, just the agonising silence of stifled creativity. Almost fifty blogs since the start of the year and now the well had apparently run dry. On reflection, it had been coming for ages, but when it had actually happened it was still a surprise. And what made it worse was that he knew that his masters, the United Brethren of Illustrious Scribes (UBIS), were watching him and that they were displeased.
He shuddered as he felt the walls of his prison-study draw imperceptibly closer and stared once more at the screen, willing his fingers to move across the keyboard to satisfy the desperate urge to fill the snowy electronic landscape before him with dancing black glyphs, but they traitorously refused to obey his command. And could he blame them? No. After all, they were highly trained and used to producing quality output, not trash. One children’s book, one novel and several short stories this year alone. They weren’t about to sacrifice their reputation by dancing randomly among the keys, just to please the impetuous whim of their deranged owner.
The screen remained impassively blank and the author breathed deeply, trying to calm himself as he fought back the rising tide of panic inside him. Now I know how McDuggan felt, he thought, as the fear subsided and a moment of calm descended.
It had all been so easy in the beginning. He’d written about New Zealand, Thailand and his time at Reading and Oxford Universities. He’d written stories about alcohol and politics. He’d come up with amusing anecdotes about crime fighting, buying fast food and barbarian chefs, all without batting an eyelid. He even had a list of future blog ideas tucked away on his laptop, but just like the manwurzle joints on his beloved car, something fundamental was broken and his ‘inspirometer’ was at an all-time low.
The sound of a motorcycle with a de-restricted exhaust penetrated the thick concrete walls of the prison-study and the author looked away from the screen to the heavily barred window some twelve feet above him. The rapturous noise made him long for the freedom of the outside world, but until he’d published his mandatory blog, then his overlords would not let him be. Like the harpies that tormented King Phineus of Thrace, these unseen monsters tore at his words in the womb of his subconscious, shredding his ideas before they could see the light of day, leaving a hollowed-out shell of a man to try and piece something worthwhile together before they attacked again.
A sudden flicker on the screen caught his eye and he fought back a shriek of horror as he saw the screensaver kick in. Reflexively, he grabbed the mouse and knocked it sideways, banishing the multi-coloured bubbles back to their own demonic universe. Chest rising and falling heavily from the near miss, he stared once more at the screen, almost daring it to remain blank. “What on earth am I going to write about?” he asked himself, his voice echoing emptily off the bleak and unforgiving walls. “I once said that I would write about it all and to hell with the consequences, but that was then. I’m older now and far more worldly-wise.”
And then, without warning, a thought struck him, clear and sharp as a bolt of lightning. It didn’t so much emerge, as explode in his head, sending the roiling clouds of uncertainty and doubt fleeing in terror. “I’ll write about the trials and tribulations of being a blogger!” he exclaimed, flinging his arms wide for effect and nearly toppling off his one-legged stool in the process. “That’s what I’ll do! I’ll show them the grim underbelly of a real writer’s life. The pain, suffering and helplessness. That it’s not all roses and champagne. Then they’ll understand and finally, I’ll be free!”
At that moment, there was an ominous knocking at the thick iron door, followed by the surprising sound of the dreaded time-lock being deactivated. Quaking at the thought that he must have not only displeased his UBIS masters but those of their parent organisation, the Global Authors Guild (GAG), the struggling author breathed a sigh of relief as the door opened and his wife entered the room.
“Lunch is ready, dear,” she said, her voice lightening the oppressive atmosphere in the prison-study by several notches.
“Thanks, Love. I’ll be right down,” he replied, grateful beyond words for this brief and unexpected respite from the unenviable task at hand. Rising from his stool and letting it fall to the floor beneath him, he crossed over to his wife. Then, taking her gently by the hand, he led her out of the room, shutting the door behind him with a deep clang and leaving the monitor screen resolutely blank.
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